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Steven Spielberg on fear

Steven Spielberg has a reputation as a movie director, which is just another form of being a story teller. Mostly he's taking other people's stories and interpreting them, with the help of a cast and crew.

Back in early December, he was interviewed in Entertainment Weekly, and I've been meaning to post this excerpt ever since I read the article. Here it is:

I read somewhere that you were nauseous every day while making [your first short film] Amblin'. True?

Yes. I've always had shpilkes (Yiddish for "nerves").

You didn't have a career yet - what were you worried about?

It's not even about the career. I have shpilkes now and I have a career. I think it's my fuel, basically - my nervous stomach. That's what keeps me honest, right? And a little bit humble, in the sense that when I make a movie, I never think I have all the answers. I think I've stayed collaborative my entire career because I don't have all the answers. I come onto the set - whether it was my first movie, The Sugarland Express, or Lincoln - and it cuts me down to size. It's a good feeling to have.

I know a lot of writer friends who feel this time every single time they embark on a new manuscript or a new round of revisions, and oftentimes it seems to catch them off-guard. I really like Spielberg's take on it - that the nerves fuel the creative process. Don't you?

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 16th, 2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
No kidding. Yet they exist, right? And isn't there something at least a little bit encouraging about knowing that someone like Spielberg operates in that same way, despite repeated success?
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 17th, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
Chocolate certainly helps!
Jan. 17th, 2012 12:57 am (UTC)
I love sphilkes, it's so much more than nerves. It's nervous ambition, I just love that word.
Jan. 17th, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
The definition was verbatim from the EW article - but yeah, "nervous ambition" is so much cooler. And it really is the sort of thing that fuels the creative process.
Jan. 17th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
I like that!
Jan. 17th, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
Me too.
Jan. 17th, 2012 09:50 am (UTC)
tanita says
I have shpilkes and kvetches and mishegases and plotzes.
It never gets easier, it's all work, and then when you're done you look back and say, "what was all the whinging about?"
Jan. 17th, 2012 02:09 pm (UTC)
Re: tanita says
Except that oftentimes, you can remember all too well what all the whinging was about . . . or, at least, I can when it comes to my own writing. But not always.
Jan. 17th, 2012 12:11 pm (UTC)
I like this a lot too. I just don't like it when those nerves become nearly debilitating. :)
Jan. 17th, 2012 02:09 pm (UTC)
Exactly. But somehow, knowing what they are and why they're there and that other people experience this and push ahead helps to keep them from becoming quite so bad, at least for me.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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